Kingston's Multicultural Festival showcases art from a diverse range of cultures

The fifth annual KMAF unites the experiences of many through music and food

The Mexican Pavilion community booth at Sunday's Multicultural Arts Festival.
The Mexican Pavilion community booth at Sunday's Multicultural Arts Festival.

This past Sunday, Kingston held its fifth annual Multicultural Arts Festival (KMAF) at Confederation Park, a refreshing event abundant with food, music and community booths of all kinds.

The Kingston Multicultural Roundtable, a project originating from local ethno-cultural associations, is a fundamental part of the festival’s existence. The roundtable got together and successfully organized the festival in 2010, which has been held every year since then.

The KMAF has succeeded every year since 2010 in uniting the sub-cultures that exist in Kingston and allowing residents to experience a variety of art forms within each culture in the process.

The atmosphere of the festival was warm and welcoming, as over 200 people perused the countless tents set up in the park facing the lake. In the centre there was a stage where artists from different backgrounds performed at intervals, with some of the main performers being Alassane Djigo, a percussionist from Senegal, the Kingston Chinese Folk Dance Troupe and the Rob Roy Pipe Band.

Some of the pavilions at the festival included the Egyptian, Pakistani, Irish and Filipino Pavilions. The Japanese Pavilion not only sold colorful kimonos and jewellery, but decorated their booth with posters bringing awareness to charities supporting the help of those devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The festival holds importance to everyone associated with it, from the organizers to the set-up volunteers.

“[The festival] is amazing. It’s beyond anything I imagined it would be. I definitely want to come again,” said Waddah Osman, a festival volunteer.

KMAF exposes Kingston residents to a variety of cultures through clothing, food, music and art.

Colleen Richardson, a spokesperson for Keys Job Centre in Kingston, said the festival is important for her because it allows people the opportunity to learn about the organization’s efforts to help newly immigrated people find careers in the area.

“I love the festival, I think it’s great,” Richardson said. “I’ve met people who have immigrated here that have come to the booth in the past, and then came back with their success stories.” Noor-Ul-Huda, a local resident, emphasized the festival’s significance in Kingston.

“I come here every year. I think it’s one of the best festivals Kingston has to offer because it’s so inclusive of so many different cultures, and everyone who comes is very open-minded,” she said.

The festival not only highlights the importance of celebrating different cultures within Kingston, but does so in a unique way through showcasing the art each culture offers in one form or another.

“It’s great because you’re experiencing different cultures, and that’s something you don’t do on a regular basis,” Ul-Huda said.

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